We here at DailyKos criticize Democratic office-holders and office-seekers all the time, but rarely have I seen the level of how dare you question? hostility as with the response to the front-paged stories offering skepticism towards Caroline Kennedy's pursuit of a Senatorial appointment.
I don't intend to psychoanalyze the motives of those who remain so defensive of Ms. Kennedy's candidacy, but I think I can shed some light as to what's animating the skeptics. Take a look at this set of last names, and tell me what legacies come to mind:
Bruenjes, Clawson, Dworkin, Gardner, Houle, Jaikumar, Lange, Lazzaro, Lewison, Logothesis, McCarter, McIntyre, Morrill, Moulitsas, Sumner, van der Linden, Waldman
In all likelihood, the only one you even recognize is Moulitsas. They're not the names of titans of industry, or of former Senators. These names don't guarantee that your phone calls to important figures will be returned, they won't get you a table at a restaurant that purports to be booked, they don't get you invited to movie premieres or gallery openings ... they really don't open any doors at all.
Except right here. These are the last names of the front-pagers at DailyKos, and the thing that everyone here has in common is that they earned their spots here. Markos built this site -- and he invited the people who write for the front page -- and you come here to read them -- because of their ideas, and how well they express them. It wasn't wealthy investors or big names that built this site -- it was their writing and your interest in it.
[Trust me: the only thing that having a last name of "Bonin" entitles you to in life is years of puerile name-calling based on the tumescent condition.]
I haven't asked any of them about this -- and for all I know, some of them support Kennedy's bid -- but I suspect that to the extent there's skepticism or even hostility, it's because the whole ethos of this site is meritocracy, and it extends to the blogosphere as a whole. There's nothing inherent in names like "Joshua Micah Marshall" or "Glenn Greenwald" that compels you to read them; you visit their sites because they're good. On the other hand, the Internet is littered with sites and projects backed by big money and big names (remember Unity08?), but which collapsed because of lack of interest.
The Kennedy candidacy, on its face, stands in opposition to this ethos. So far, it has been about leveraging the power of a name into a Senate seat without the effort of a two-year campaign, and without the type of legislative or executive experience that one generally brings to the table before running for the Senate.
Not every current Senator was in public life before -- Bob Bennett was the businessman and the son of a Senator; Chuck Hagel a businessman; Orrin Hatch an attorney; Herb Kohl a wealthy state party chair; and, of course, Ted Kennedy himself, who was just a recent UVa Law graduate (and manager of his brother's 1958 reelection bid) and Suffolk County assistant district attorney when he first ran in 1962. Going back further, look at 34-year-old Bill Bradley, running for the Senate right after NBA career ended or trial lawyer John Edwards, neither of whom had sought office before.
But at least they all campaigned for it. They built statewide organizations, addressed the press and citizen concerns (including competing interest groups within the party), and persuaded voters over time that they had the judgment and policy depth to be elected. The appointment process admittedly short-circuits that vetting for all of Sen. Clinton's potential replacements, but at least others in the field have gone through it once.
This leads to another point worth making: simply believing the right things isn't enough to be a successful candidate or a successful Senator. On both facets, the example of Hillary Clinton is illustrative. Her listening tour and subsequent 2000 campaign reflected a level of gravitas (and warmth) that we hadn't really seen before, and as a freshman Senator she had to work her ass off before gaining any respect or influence; her celebrity purchased nothing there.
It could well be that over the next few weeks, Ms. Kennedy's public efforts and excellent diaries like this will help fill in the picture, and demonstrate the depth of (hopefully correct) policy views and toughness in her life experience that would make Caroline Kennedy a progressive, effective interim Senator and a successful 2010 and 2012 candidate for the office whom we can all support and admire.
But while willing and listening, I'm not convinced yet. If she wants my support, she has to earn it in her own right, in her own name. In the meantime, y'all can decide whether you agree with my analysis -- based on the quality of my writing, and not who I am.